The Destroyer (fiction)

The Destroyer (fiction)

"The Destroyer" is a paperback series of novels created by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir about a U.S. government operative named Remo Williams. The first novel was published in 1971, although the manuscript was written in 1963. Along with Don Pendleton's "The Executioner" series, "The Destroyer" is one of the original and longest lasting men's adventure series. It was adapted into the 1985 feature film, "", starring Fred Ward as Williams.

Unlike "The Executioner" and similar series, "The Destroyer" cannot be strictly labeled as an adventure series. The series, while action based, has several elements of fantasy, science fiction, espionage and mystery (not necessarily all in the same novel). The main characteristic that sets "The Destroyer" series apart from other adventure series is the political and social satire in almost every novel. The series has lampooned almost every subject, including itself, over the years.


The series was originally co-written by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir. Early in the series, only one of them would write a book alone. The usual process was for one of them to begin the book and for the other to finish it. In the late 1970s, the relationship between the two men became tense, and Sapir left the series. In the early 1980s, Murphy began using ghostwriters to help with the series, including his wife Molly Cochran. By the mid-1980s, Sapir returned to the series to write some more books.

In the late 1980s, Will Murray took over the responsibility of writing the series alone, after writing several of the books with either Murphy or Sapir. After Sapir died, Murray continued the series until the late 1990s. When Murray left after novel #107, there were three novels without a steady ghostwriter (#108 & #110 by Mike Newton; #109 by Alan Philipson). Jim Mullaney took over for novels #111-#131, followed by two more by Newton. Tim Somheil was ghostwriter from #134 through #145.

On July 11, 2006, it was announced that "The Destroyer" would be moving to Tor Books, part of the St. Martin's publishing group. Along with the change of publisher, author Somheil was dropped in favor of previous author Mullaney, who will co-write the novels with Warren Murphy. The last novel published by Gold Eagle, "Dragon Bones", came out in October 2006. The first Tor novel, "The New Destroyer: Guardian Angel", was published in May 2007, as well as a re-release of three older novels in a collection called "The Best of the Destroyer". The second novel, "Choke Hold", was out October 31st, with "Dead Reckoning" to follow in April 2008 and "Killer Ratings" later that year. If the series does well, there may be hardcovers in the future.

A few years ago, Murphy started his own publishing house, Ballybunion, to have a vehicle to start "Destroyer" spin-off books. Ballybunion has reprinted "The Assassin's Handbook", as well as the original works "Assassin's Handbook 2", "The Movie That Never Was" (a screenplay he and Richard Sapir wrote for a "Destroyer" movie that was never optioned), "The Way of the Assassin" (the wisdom of Chiun), and "New Blood", a collection of short stories written by fans of the series.


The series is about Remo Williams, a Newark cop framed for a crime and sentenced to death. His death is faked by the government so he can be trained as an assassin for CURE, a secret organization set up by President Kennedy to defend the country by working outside the bounds of the Constitution. The sitting US President and the head of CURE were initially the only other people that know about the organization. (Over the years this circle of people has increased slightly.) The head of CURE is Harold Smith, a man selected by the President because of his brilliant mind but more importantly, because of his integrity. Smith was a former law instructor at Yale and served in the Office of Strategic Services during World War II.

Remo's trainer is Chiun, a deadly assassin and the last Master of Sinanju. Over the years, Remo and Chiun's relationship has transformed from student-teacher to son-father. It's also been discovered over the years that Remo is the avatar of Shiva, as prophesied in the legends of Sinanju. In 1985, a companion book entitled "Inside Sinanju" was published. This was a revised and updated book that was formerly titled "The Assassin's Handbook". Most of the book is written in the first person of "Chiun". It covers anecdotes as well as information on the various villains and story arcs from the series.

Although the series settled down into its formula by around the third book, there are many elements which are not present in the first book, "Created, The Destroyer". Many of these have, however, been "retconned" into later stories about the early days of Remo's training. In the first book, the word Sinanju is not used at all to describe the martial arts that Chiun teaches Remo. Zen, karate, aikido and judo are used instead. Remo has many trainers for other aspects of being an undercover operative, he is taught to use different types of firearms, and trained in close-quarters assassination. He smokes tobacco, drinks alcohol, and eats red meat, all activities that would later prove harmful or impossible as his body became changed by the harsh Sinanju training regime. Remo uses a gun to shoot somebody, although it is only to wound, and all his actual kills are hand-to-hand. He does make a conscious choice not to use weapons, after a fight in which he kills a man who had been pointing a gun at him. He realizes that Chiun never carried a gun and is over 70, whereas MacCleary, who had told him to always carry a gun, is dead. The retelling of Remo's origin in the story "The Day Remo Died" in "The Assassin's Handbook" and in Destroyer #120-121 square his origin more fully with later developments.

Chiun is a minor supporting character who appears only briefly in this book in an early training sequence, and is not referred to again. Much of the humour that comes in the later books from the relationship between Remo and Chiun is correspondingly absent. The book also lacks the 'signature' touch, in that the first line of chapter two does not start with the words: 'His name was Remo'.


Remo and Chiun have encountered a number of colorful villains, both human and superhuman. Their foes have run the gamut of pulp fiction, from mobsters to mad scientists. Given their talents as assassins, few have survived their encounters with Remo and Chiun, but some of their more powerful foes have managed to survive, such as the sinister android Mr. Gordons, super-soldier Elizu Roote, the computer program known as Friend, renegade Sinanju practitioner Nuihc (backwards spelling of the name Chiun), and his protege Jeremiah Purcell, a.k.a. the Dutchman, and a Chinese vampire known as The Master.

Other media

In 1985, "The Destroyer" concept was adapted for the theatrical movie "", starring Fred Ward as Williams and Joel Grey as Chiun. In 1988, an American television pilot, "Remo Williams", aired but did not lead to a series. It starred Jeffrey Meek as Williams and Roddy McDowall as Chiun. Like many films, this one did not follow the source material very closely, much to the disgust of some fans and the authors of the Destroyer series. Several Destroyer books actually make fun of the film and its promotional materials.

There have been several "Destroyer" comic book and magazine series published by Marvel. [ [ Destroyer Comic Books - Plots, covers, and more! ] ]

Series listing

# "Created, The Destroyer"
# "Death Check"
# " Chinese Puzzle"
# " Mafia Fix"
# "Dr. Quake"
# " Death Therapy"
# " Union Bust"
# " Summit Chase"
# " Murder's Shield"
# "Terror Squad"
# "Kill or CURE"
# " Slave Safari"
# " Acid Rock"
# "Judgment Day
# " Murder Ward
# " Oil Slick
# " Last War Dance
# " Funny Money
# "Holy Terror
# " Assassin's Play-Off
# " Deadly Seeds
# " Brain Drain
# " Child's Play
# " King's Curse
# " Sweet Dreams
# "In Enemy Hands
# "The Last Temple
# "Ship of Death
# "The Final Death
# " Mugger Blood
# "The Head Men
# " Killer Chromosomes
# " Voodoo Die
# " Chained Reaction
# " Last Call
# " Power Play
# " Bottom Line
# " Bay City Blast
# " Missing Link
# " Dangerous Games
# " Firing Line
# " Timber Line
# " Midnight Man
# " Balance of Power
# " Spoils of War
# " Next of Kin
# " Dying Space
# " Profit Motive
# " Skin Deep
# " Killing Time
# " Shock Value
# " Fool's Gold
# " Time Trial
# "Last Drop
# " Master's Challenge
# " Encounter Group
# " Date With Death
# " Total Recall
# " The Arms of Kali
# " The End of the Game
# "Lords of the Earth
# " The Seventh Stone
# " The Sky Is Falling
# " The Last Alchemist
# " Lost Yesterday
# " Sue Me
# " Look Into My Eyes
# " An Old-Fashioned War
# "Blood Ties
# " The Eleventh Hour
# " Return Engagement
# "Sole Survivor
# " Line of Succession
# "Walking Wounded
# " Rain of Terror
# " The Final Crusade
# " Coin of the Realm
# " Blue Smoke And Mirrors
# " Shooting Schedule
# " Death Sentence
# " Hostile Takeover
# " Survival Course
# " Skull Duggery
# " Ground Zero
# " Blood Lust
# " Arabian Nightmare
# " Mob Psychology
# " The Ultimate Death
# "Dark Horse
# "Ghost in the Machine
# " Cold Warrior
# " The Last Dragon
# " Terminal Transmission
# " Feeding Frenzy
# " High Priestess
# " Infernal Revenue
# " Identity Crisis
# "Target of Opportunity
# "The Color of Fear
# "Last Rites
# " Bidding War
# " Unite and Conquer
# " Engines Of Destruction
# " Angry White Mailmen
# " Scorched Earth
# " White Water
# " Feast or Famine
# " Bamboo Dragon
# " American Obsession
# " Never Say Die
# " Prophet of Doom
# " Brain Storm
# "The Empire Dreams
# " Failing Marks
# " Misfortune Teller
# " The Final Reel
# " Deadly Genes
# " Killer Watts
# " Fade To Black
# " The Last Monarch
# " A Pound of Prevention
# "Syndication Rites
# " Disloyal Opposition
# "By Eminent Domain
# " The Wrong Stuff
# "Air Raid
# "Market Force
# " The End of the Beginning
# "Father To Son
# " Waste Not, Want Not
# "Unnatural Selection
# "Wolf's Bane
# "Troubled Waters
# "Bloody Tourists
# " Political Pressure
# " Unpopular Science
# " Industrial Evolution
# " No Contest
# " Dream Thing
# " Dark Ages
# "Frightening Strikes
# "Mindblower
# "Bad Dog
# "Holy Mother
# "Dragon Bones

The New Destroyer series
# "Guardian Angel (May 2007)
# "Choke Hold (October 2007)
# "Dead Reckoning (April 2008)
# "Killer Ratings (August, 2008)

* "The Best of the Destroyer" (May 1st 2007) -- A collection of three early Destroyer books: "Chinese Puzzle", "Slave Safari", and "Assassin's Play-off".


Dec., 2007: "Guardian Angel", "Choke Hold" and "The Best of the Destroyer" make [ Bookgasm's] top ten list of the best crime novels of 2007.


External links

* [ Destroyer Club]
* []

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